Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A few thoughts on self defence.

Night lighting woman, posted a comment on my post on DC getting self defence. Along those lines if I may, consider these thoughts.

In my state a perfect self defence has four elements: You must be in actual fear of; death, serious injury, or sexual assault, and you can not be an instigator willingly entering the conflict, and the threat must be one that a person of ordinary firmness would consider a deadly threat, and you cannot use excessive force.

WOW! What does that mean? Notice that the above is a long sentence connected by "and", all elements must be present.

First you must believe you are about to die or damn near it, serious bodily harm is a broad target, so the belief must be equally scary. Second, you can't be perceived to start a fight and when you are getting your tender parts kicked, pull a gun and save the tender parts. Third, you can have no special training; police ,military, martial arts, for all I know assertiveness training. (A higher standard if you have training.) Fourth, any force used after the threat is removed is excessive. (No mercy shots! I don't care how much they scream!)

How do you determine these things, and decide in a split second, if you can win the court case, if you win the gunfight? Be advised, the decision you make in a split second, will be debated at length, by the legal system, for as long as they see fit. That alone is enough to make a strong person tremble. Remember as Lawdog advised, you can be right in the rules of self defence, and get the pants sued off you by a ner-do-well lawyer.

Think too, these rules rely on the BELIEF by third parties that your actions were justified. If you are tried by a jury of your peers, does that mean a group of former victims of similar situations. What makes them your peers? Most would rely on income, background and education. Which counts for nothing when someone points a lethal weapon; be it gun, knife or ball bat at you.

John Wayne was the only guy who never ran away, and he's dead (I know he used a few tactical retreats, just an expression.)! The rest of us have a duty to retreat, to runaway, if retreat is possible. The exceptions are if the threat is too close, (can't run with out getting caught), or you are within your own four corners at home, or your business premises, you have no duty to retreat. That sounds reasonable, Castle Doctrine and all that, but do you carry a side arm, in your yard while playing with the kiddies? If you feel the need, OK, but will your neighbors see you as looking for an excuse to use the side arm? Will a prosecutor use this as a spring board to drag in other opinion about your mental state?

What about some one breaking into your house? What if they are using language that leads you to believe they are going to commit a felony against someone in the home. What if they are already in the house after the hours you would normally be in bed?

Where I live, if you have a reasonable apprehension that a felony will be committed against someone in the home, you can use force up to and including lethal force, to terminate (prevent) the entry. Conversely, after the entry has been accomplished, it can't be prevented, and the first four rules of a perfect self defence apply. Twice in my tenure as instructor these have been put to the test, with the Sheriff stating no crime had been committed and no charges would be filed. In one case, a friend of mine actually discharged his weapon into the chest and forehead of a perp. and no charges were filed. Unfortunately the perp. in question lived because the ammo was snake shot. I told him to get some real bullets, the next guy might be wearing a coat.

Now for the hard part. I have had police, military,and martial arts training. I am a certified instructor for Concealed Carry Handgun in my state. I am also a large unfriendly appearing man with little facial expression. I am an NRA pistol and shotgun coach. What's the standard for me?
I hope to never know. Often the answer lies at the end of an ugly struggle within the legal system.

What about the weapon you carry? If you carry a big bore handgun, does that indicate a willingness to use it? Can you rely on someone thinking that the larger bullet enhances your chance of stopping your attacker. (Nobody attack me, it's an illustration not a provable fact. Not even my opinion.) Will they instead believe that you just wanted a bigger hole to ensure your opponent would die sooner?

What if, as a conscientious gun owner, you practice regularly to maintain proficiency? Does that give credence to an accusation that " you practice to make sure you can kill easily"?

What about the ammo you reloaded to carry? Do those few fps gained make your load more lethal? Did you want to kill so badly that factory ammo just wouldn't cut it?

The above is only a partial explanation of self defence law in my state. The questions are to demonstrate the possibilities that could be explored in a case against you. Defending your life and the lives of your loved ones is the highest calling of adults in this country. There is only one person you can really count on to keep the wolf from your throat. That would be you, every time. The first step in self defence or the defence of your loved ones, is to ensure you know the law. Ensure that you are within the law. Your conduct must be above reproach. Your response must be no more than allowed by the situation.

If you are so unfortunate as to actually use lethal force, bad things will follow.

You should be prepared to be second guessed, criticized, and verbally assaulted. You must present as calm and reasonable a face as you possibly can.

Above all, you must be truthful, LEO's hear fairy tales every day, most start with "But Officer". They have heard it all, and if not, someone they work with has, and they talk to each other.
The very first time you lie they will find out, and every word after that must be proven.

You should have, reasonable, articulable, circumstances to justify your actions. You should delineate the assailants ability, opportunity, and your jeopardy.

Yep, first thing to do is stop pi$$ing yourself, try to remember your name, unload your weapon, and get to where you are no longer in danger and are in plain sight. Talk only to your lawyer.

All that other stuff has to be addressed before the first shot is fired, hopefully before you decide to buy a gun.

More later.

No comments: